Daniel Louis Duncan, Trumpet

Daniel Louis Duncan, Trumpet

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Freelance chops part 2

The next three weeks are a beautiful example of the challenges of freelance playing and maintaining chop endurance and musical style challenges.
This week I have rehearsals and a performance with the Asylum Hill Orchestra in Hartford, CT where I'm performing the Music for the Royal Fireworks, Zadok the Priest, and the King Shall Rejoice-all Handel (all on picc), plus the Missa in tempore belli of F. J. Haydn on C trumpet.  Got the music 3 days in advance.
The following week is one rehearsal with a brass quartet and harp with a performance the next day in Marblehead, MA, don't have the music for this yet.
The next week I begin a month long run of playing lead on City of Angels at Curtain Call Theatre in Stamford, CT.  Got the music a few days ago, so I have the luxury of two weeks to review it and get the chops into a lead mouthpiece.
On top of this I have a busy teaching schedule all during this and have to prepare for all of the above at the same time.

So...how do you prepare?

I focus for the next couple of days on the baroque/classical stuff by playing through it with a recording to get a sense of endurance issues.  Right away I see that the conductor wants to repeat the entire Overture and the 3/4 Allegro section which is a big issue because it is a long haul without the repeat AND goes right into a short adagio that has a pic trumpet flourish up to concert D then jumps right into the 3/4 allegro section that goes on for an entire page with many concert D's throughout.  A bit of a challenge as conductor's haven't a clue what this does to our chops.  Endurance challenge.  Without more than 2 days to prepare for the first rehearsal I just focus on really being aware of setting on breath support and floating the notes.  The style of this period lends itself to chime types of attacks with a dynamic drop after notes.  Don't confuse this with not sustaining the notes, it just allows you to use your articulation like a trampoline so to save any unnecessary pressure on the chops.  I try to make sure I can go through the pieces twice in a day.

It is also necessary, for me, during this hectic schedule to really spend more time on my routines before tackling the music.  This is also the time I get on youtube and listen to great advice on breathing and tonguing.  I would highly recommend James Morrison's tutorial!  Yes, these are concepts I know, but it's nice to be reminded of different approaches to the same ideas.  Keeps me engaged in what to value....AIR!!!

As soon as my music arrives for week 2, I have to manage looking it over without killing my picc chops for the above performance.  Depending on how it looks I'll probably wait until after the first performance on Friday to look at it.  Best scenario!

While looking at the Brass Quartet music I'll probably have no choice and have to run the show music as City of Angels is a tough book, especially because the music director is adding additional parts for me to play.

Did I mention that I'm playing Napoli with band in mid July.  Got to fit that in too!

This is what it's like folks!

Part 1 and 3 to this article can be found here  and here.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Instinct response part IV

I have an adult student who is a thoracic doc with whom I have great conversations about breathing.  Teaching him has helped me really define, verbally, control of proper air flow for trumpet playing so there isn't a contradiction between medical functionality and teacher description.  He has such an understanding of function of the lungs that he processes what I describe through his thorough lens.  With all my students I do my best to avoid too much technical vocabulary and keep things simple and easy to understand with my vast wardrobe of analogies.

Vincent Penzarella has said it best, "Exhalation is inhalation without hesitation".  Now, this is an advanced concept, so although my students hear me say this, I give lots of examples of what this means.  For years I did not breath deep enough and move my air fast enough and still sounded decent.   Having a deep understanding of the importance of a very deep, relaxed inhalation and pushing out my exhalation at the end of a note before a breath took my playing to a new level.

The beginning of anything we play is the easiest place to start, but it only begins here.  The test and most important implementation of this concept is in the breath between notes.  Understanding that how you exhale has everything to do with what type of inhalation you will have.  So....I teach my students how to increase exhalation before a breath so that inhalation will be deep, relaxed, efficient, and will need less time, thus interruption of the music is minimized.

Continue that concept to every note you play.....meaning "connection".  Think of a relay race.  What is the one aspect beyond being a fast runner that makes the team win/work?  It's the hand off of the red stick!  What does the runner do?  The runner with the stick, when getting close to the hand off, increases his/her speed and reaches out with the stick.  The runner on the receiving end starts slowing running and reaches out to grab the stick from behind so there is as seamless a hand off as possible.

Try this with each note you play.   Start a half note (quarter equals 60) middle g...on beat two increase your air in anticipation of handing it to the next note, a "c" one forth above for a whole note.  Do that again, but add a breath at the end of the "c", push out the exhalation at the end of that note and come back in on another "c" whole note.  Experiment with this concept with the music you are working on. Does it improve your sound, pitch, relaxation?

Find  Parts I,    II,     and III   to this topic by tapping the numbers.